New movie investigates global complicity in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’

the Argentinian military the reign of the dictatorship of terror tortured and murdered, leading to the disappearance of at least 30,000 people. Now, 45 years later, Swiss filmmaker Andreas Fontana takes the tragic Latin American historical events to the big screen to show viewers how different people and countries — including the US and European countries — helped create a international stands of terror.

“I think it’s important to say this story from a morally ambiguous perspective,” said Fontana in a telephone interview with NBC News over to be first feature movie, “Azor”, die is released nationwide on the IFC Center in New York on Friday Sept 10.. “The story of a Swiss banker who travels to Argentina to replace a missing partner casts a much wider one net that represents a system where many different countries took benefit.”

“Azor” is set in 1980 and follows Yvan De Weil (played by Fabrizio Rongione), a private banker from Geneva who travels nearly 7,000 miles with his wife, Inés (Stéphanie Cléau) to Buenos Aires at the peak of the Argentinian military kidnappings and repression of the dictatorship.

Viewers meet the high-net-worth customers of The Weil’s former partner, and penetrate in the tense atmosphere of a society where political indiscretions can end in abrupt disappearances.

“A banker can be both respectable and elegant. But if you look at De Weil’s work, how he conducts business with customers, it can be ambiguous. And if you take into account met the violence of the Argentine dictatorship, then it is no longer ambiguous but completely obscure,” Fontana said.

Just two months after the military in taken into custody power in Argentina on March 24, 1976, Argentinian secret Police met with counterparts of five other Latin American countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) toterm cooperation in a US-backed campaign die targeted communists, socialists, and others leftwing supporters, as well as those die to be against military and right-wing governments.

The campaign trusted on international collaboration, including the use of encryption machines delivered by a Swiss company that in the secret belongs to the CIA and German intelligence, as well as the French military, die taught and shared torture tactics.

“New one didn’t talk anymore over her”

Ioana Padilla, an Argentine theater actress who plays the daughter of one of the clients in “Azor,” was 9 years old when her mother, Mercedes, was taken by force.

“Mine memory is unclear of they took hair from home, of when she was taken from a bar die visited them downstairs,” she said in a telephone interview. “We were always told to go to bed at 9pm, but what I remember clearly is waking up up the next day and see the apartment in a mess.”

Padillas mother disappeared on August 20, 1976. Padilla describes her mother as someone who had a lot of friendships with left- leaning artists and made anti-military comment once over a cocktail at the Argentine embassy in The United States

But she remembers a lot people in her family is rich social class, the Argentine elite, supporting the military coup d’état.

Padilla remembers popular slogans in favor of the dictatorship like “Somos derechos y humanos” (“We are right and human”) and “El silencio es salud” (“Silence is health”).

This last one was particularly poignant because Padilla did not over her mother could talk.

“The atmosphere was terrible,” she says. “I would hear” people say something like, ‘Some flowers must’ die for all the weeds to die.’ And you couldn’t really talk because it was dangerous. I went to school de next day [after her mom disappeared] and acted like nothing happened.”

padilla says that hair father tried to find her mother, but he started getting threatening phone calls. So she family stopped met to talk over her.

A scene from ‘Azor’ by Swiss filmmaker Andreas Fontana. Thanks to MUBI

“If someone asked about my mother, I’d say she… on a trip to New York,” she said. “We told my younger brothers, who were then 3 and 4, die mother had an accident in the United States and she was admitted in the hospital. Her return kept getting delayed and delayed until now one didn’t talk anymore over her.”

Padillas family also threats from different political sides. They says her paternal grandfather, a banker, narrowly escaped a bomb die to be below bureau was planted, possibly by a… left-wing militant group.

“Unfortunately there are flags die are claimed by the left of right. And they own themselves die to problems. It shouldn’t be like this way. Human rights are human rights. And they should to be for everyone,” she said.

Violence “as a legitimate political” strategy”

Mariana Heredia, and Argentine sociologist who is an expert on the dictatorship, says that the military government kept to herself in power by promoting the idea that violence is justified as political strategy.

However, she points out, this idea was commonplace with other Latin American governments and both right and leftwing militants.

“The dictatorships of the 1970s were preceded by trivialization of violence as a legitimate political strategy,” she said in a telephone interview. “It is difficult to understand what the military did in the region if one does not also mean that in violence had become acceptable in previous years.”

Heredia explained that on one hand, power unconstitutional in was seized by the military. And on on the other hand, rebellious movements also violence adopted in response to oppression of the excesses of die governments. These perspectives, she concluded, legitimized violence on both sides of the political spectrum.

The acceptance of violence eventually led to a national safety doctrine die called out on the military for not only fight external enemies, but also identify and fight die in the land, said Heredia.

From this perspective, the military coup d’état was supported by the false idea that it could restore order and also respect the law. But heredia says, it militarized politics instead until attack social movements and this reached levels of violence never seen before in the region before.

“There was absolute consensus among the military elites in Argentina to go on a dirty war,” she said. “That internal enemy had to be destroyed. And that’s why there was no need to cut corners on means, even if extreme, to eradicate it.”

To this day, Heredia says that a large part of the military elites out die years still claim to have emerged victorious from the war.

“There was for for quite some time within the Latin American elites, say the military and their closest allies, an agreement on the need for repressive violence,” she said.

AN quest for justice promotes human rights

Sevane Garibian, an international criminal and transitional justice lawyer based in Switzerland, says that political movements in Argentine society die makes the disappeared visible is a model for human rights lawyers all over the world.

“Because of this political movement during the Cold War in the 80s and 90s we see a very deep revolution in the field of international human rights,” said Garibian in a telephone interview. “Especially the ‘dirty war’ in Argentina, and more general Operation Condor, contributed to a turnaround in international human rights law.”

“Dirty War” refers to the disappearances, murders and other violence in Argentina during the 1976–83 military dictatorship. Operation Condor is a program run By the military dictatorships of Argentina and five other South American countries in the mid-1970s to brutally suppress dissent.

Garibian explained that in the aftermath, non-governmental organizations and political movements approached human rights in different ways.

The use of DNA testing in the quest for victims’ remains, now seen everything over the world, coming in some to Latin America and specifically to Argentina, Garibian said. “This is how to start in the begin of the 1990s, the systematic use of DNA testing created a new paradigm in the fields of science and international law.”

she pointed out die Others countries seeking justice for victims in Argentina past the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, die allows for unsolved war crimes of to try crimes against humanity that happened outside of their limits.

“In Spain, via the use of universal jurisdiction, former Argentine naval officer Adolfo Scilingo was convicted for crimes against humanity die have been committed in Argentina,” she said. “Scilingo was directly concerned in los vuelos de la muerte [death flights], where the military systematically threw victims unconsciously the Río de la Plata in. Spain is a starting point for the use of universal jurisdiction for the verdict of mass criminals.”

While the politics of Argentina’s Dirty War and Operation Condor forced otherwise countries Search justice for victims outside of their borders, human rights can also to be like An double-sided mirror, Garibian said, exhorting: countries to explore their own involvement in mass crimes in the neighbourhood world.

“Neutrality does not make Switzerland exempt. I believe we are now in An key moment where more and more studies are being compiled over the involvement of Switzerland in mass crimes in the neighbourhood world,” she said. “So inside the field of academia, this is not taboo. And many colleagues have begun to open a door to discuss Switzerland’s indirect involvement as a country in different past events including colonialism.”

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